-- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge touched down in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan Thursday morning after a successful landing at one of the most dangerous airport runways in the world.
The couple got a surprise mid-flight when they were asked to join the pilot in the cockpit after Bhutan’s King and Queen arranged for William and Kate to join the flight crew. William, a helicopter pilot, and Kate watched as the crew piloted the plane to a safe landing in Bhutan, a kingdom whose location in the middle of the Himalayas requires a quick turn when landing on a short runway in the valley.
Prince William, 33, and Kate, 34, were met at the airport by the king of Bhutan’s sister and her husband. Kate arrived in Bhutan wearing a buttermilk-color Emilia Wickstead coast dress.
The duke and duchess were met by a large crowd of locals and were presented with flowers by two young Bhutanese children. On their way into the capitol city, Prince William and Kate stopped their motorcade to get out and greet children who lined the streets to welcome the special guests.
Kate later changed into Paul & Joe cape top with a skirt made of Bhutanese fabric for the formal ceremonial welcome with Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema at the Tashichho Dzong Temple.
Bhutan’s royal leaders are referred to as the Dragon King and Queen. The leaders, parents to a newborn son, are also often referred to as the "William and Kate of the Orient."
The traditional welcome ceremony, known as a chipdrel, was a colorful affair. The duke and duchess were escorted into the Thimpu Dzong by scores of dancers and musicians wearing a variety of ancient national dress amid the sounds of Buddhist chanting.
The royals earlier watched Bhutan's national sport at an open-air archery venue in the capital of Thimphu. Both the duke and duchess tried their hand at archery.
William encouraged Kate by saying, “You’ll be fine. You should try and shoot up in the air.”
Kate broke into a fit of giggles when her arrow went off course and missed the gaggle of press. The duchess then turned to the press, laughing and apologizing for her gallant effort.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also tried khuru, a local sport that involves throwing darts made of tree branches and bird feathers.
William and Kate traveled to Bhutan from India, where they spent the past week meeting with local villagers, going on a safari, attending a gala, visiting national landmarks and raising awareness around the plight of endangered animals.